William E. Smith

WILLIAM E. SMITH. Among the early settlers of Cherokee County, no one had more varied experiences than the first mail carrier of the northwestern part of the county. In that capacity, William E. Smith, a farmer of this county, acted for some time during the "sixties." Mr. Smith was born in Keokuk County, Iowa, on the 26th of September, 1852. His present home is on a farm in section 26, township 32, range 22, in Sheridan township. He is a son of Christopher B. and Sarah J. (McCann) Smith, natives of Indiana.

Christopher B. Smith was one of the number who made the dangerous trip to the gold fields of California in the "fifties," and many were the experiences he could have related of the different members of the party as they slowly moved towards the Golden State; of danger threatened or escaped, of sickness and perhaps death of some of the party; of the Indians, the mountains and the plains. But he did not survive to return to his family; for he died in lower California. Our subject was the only child. The mother married as her second husband, Anderson F. Harreld, of Tennessee. Lee, who lives in Galena, Kansas, is the only child of this union. Mr. Smith's step-father died in Galena in 1903, and the mother, April 5, 1884.

William E. Smith came to Kansas with his mother and step-father in 1866 and settled on a quarter section of wild land in Sheridan township, Cherokee County. The step-father afterwards returned to Missouri in 1896. Mr. Smith remained home working on the farm until the age of 21. In December, 1874, he was married to Julia Crain, a native of Washington County, Illinois. Her parents were John and Mary (Barclay) Crain, both natives of Tennessee. Mr. Crain was educated for the ministry and served as pastor of many churches. He settled in Labette County, Kansas, in 1867. His death occurred here in April 1885; his widow died three years later, March 29, 1888. The Crain family consisted of 13 children, five of whom are living, as follows: John, a farmer of Lola township; Sarah, wife of W. H. Lane, of Alto, New Mexico; Henry, a real estate dealer of Carthage, Missouri; Lewis W., a farmer of Labette County, living on the old home place there; and Julia, the wife of our subject.

The children of Mr. and Mrs. Smith are: Bertis L., a former student of the Fort Scott Normal School, who married Lora Watts, and is now farming the home place; Edith E. (Mrs. John Waugh), of Sheridan township; and Addie T., who resides at home.

After his marriage, our subject rented a farm for two years and then settled on 80 acres of new land in section 26, township 32, range 22, in Sheridan township. Afterward he acquired 40 acres in Lola township, 80 acres in section 22, and another 80-acre tract in section 35, township 32, range 22, in Sheridan township. He made all the improvements on these farms and in 1902 built a substantial new farm house. His land produced the usual small grains, oats, corn, wheat, etc. For about five years Mr. Smith dealt especially in cattle; now he deals in cattle, horses and mules along with his farming.

Mr. Smith is a Populist and is a good supporter of his party. In religious matters he is active as a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Hollowell.

In the earlier days when our subject was mail carrier in the county, the nearest railway was at Warrensburg, Missouri. The mail was carried on horseback and Mr. Smith traveled that way to and from Fort Scott. He also, for a time, hauled freight from Kansas City. However, all that is now changed and from the barren prairie have sprung good homes, schools and churches, while the mail for the farmer is delivered at his door.


History of Cherokee County Kansas and its representative citizens, ed. & comp. by Nathaniel Thompson Allison, 1904, transcribed by students from Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 4/23/97.


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